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Mary Di Michele.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1983.
64pp, paper, $17.95 (cloth), $9.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88750-508-2 (cloth), 0-88750-509-0 (paper).

Reviewed by Donalee Moulton-Barrett.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

Necessary Sugar by Mary Di Michele is a disappointment. Technically the collection is strong. The food metaphor, her most vital, is sustained throughout the collection, and the problems of women in modern society are reinforced in poem after poem. But in the end the reader is left unsatisfied.

There are two reasons for this. First, Di Michele often takes the easy way out. Rather than finishing her struggle of words emphatically, she tapers off to a trite and predictable ending that leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. These lines for example, from "The Dragons of Sullivan Street": The cook-book on the table open/to a jaded recipe for living/called marriage, /one neither of us could fully appreciate.

Second, the collection is standard fare. There is nothing special (in whatever way you define special) about Necessary Sugar. Objectively, readers can admire di Michele's style, her calculating use of words, her bittersweet rhythm. But they are still bored. There is no spark to these poems only the image of a lost traveller desperately pounding two stones together.

Donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, NS.
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